A quantitative risk assessment for skin sensitizing plant protection products: Linking derived No-Effect levels (DNELs) with agricultural exposure models

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2018 Oct:98:171-183. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2018.07.022. Epub 2018 Jul 29.


Chemical skin sensitizers produce allergic contact dermatitis, which is one of the most frequent occupational diseases associated with chemical exposures. Skin exposure is the major route of exposure when using plant protection products (PPPs). Therefore, skin sensitization is an important factor to be addressed during the regulatory risk assessment of PPPs. The main regulatory decision criterion considered when performing risk assessment for skin sensitizers is the dose applied. The equally important criteria "potency of the substance" is insufficiently considered by two potency categories as potency may vary up to five orders of magnitude. "Frequency of exposure" to the skin sensitizer is not considered at all. Consequently, an improved risk assessment methodology is essential to adequately assess health risks from skin sensitizers, especially for agricultural operators using PPPs. A quantitative risk assessment (QRA) approach for addressing PPPs sensitizing potential is proposed here. This QRA combines a methodology to derive a substance-specific threshold for skin sensitizers, a Derived No-Effect Level (DNEL), and an agricultural exposure model used for assessing chronic health risks of PPPs. The proposed QRA for skin sensitizing PPPs is a clear improvement over current risk assessment to ensure the safe use of skin sensitizers in an occupational context.

Keywords: Agricultural operator exposure model; Allergic contact dermatitis; Chemical skin sensitizers; Derived No-Effect level (DNEL); Plant protection products; Quantitative risk assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Allergens / toxicity*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / prevention & control
  • Haptens / toxicity*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Level
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Plant Diseases / prevention & control
  • Protective Agents / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Allergens
  • Haptens
  • Protective Agents